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Said another way - having the ability to resort to eminent domain would give TCR more leverage in the free market negotiation against a truly intransigent landowner.  Nobody wants to go through eminent domain, but having it as a backup option/threat helps

 

The logic here is really daft though. Lets walk through this. You are saying that TCR would use an already well known government privilege as a "threat". So you would threaten them with a technique that would actually be a loss to the company and waste both of their time? If you ever offered someone a potential deal would you really honestly "threaten" someone with an option that's actually worse economically for both parties? They aren't some criminal underground or the Mafia. 'hey bud if you don't take this deal we are going to rough you up a little bit, see. Make it hard for you to sell in the free market, see'. It's a bit silly. Why would you ever threat a potential customer and landowner who you might have to face again in the future to work out new deals? If this were common practice...just really think about this....would anyone ever invest in any company or work with any company period. Real Estate wouldn't even exist if this were the case.

 

EDIT: Essentially I don't agree with the crutch of your argument which makes the assumption that ED is TCR's "ace up their sleeve" or "wildcard". Like ED is some surprise to the landowner that they never saw coming, but that would never work. If you were ever going to "threaten" someone and back them into a corner it's with a unforeseen element that is not visible by the person that isn't in position to make a deal, but EVERYONE knows about ED.

Edited by Luminare
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Threatening may not be the right word, but all I can say is that I work in project development for oil and gas pipelines, where it does work like that.  You try and acquire the ROW through amicable negotiations (paying above FMV in most cases to make it go smoothly), but if you run into a landowner that is not negotiating in good faith, then having the ability to invoke ED helps in the negotiation.  You almost never want to actually go down that route though (as you point out) because of the lose/lose to both parties, but at least you have certainty that you can get the ROW at the end of the day.  The other way to get leverage in the negotiation is to have scouted reroutes around that landowner available so instead of getting 200% of FMV out of it, they could get nothing.

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Threatening may not be the right word, but all I can say is that I work in project development for oil and gas pipelines, where it does work like that.  You try and acquire the ROW through amicable negotiations (paying above FMV in most cases to make it go smoothly), but if you run into a landowner that is not negotiating in good faith, then having the ability to invoke ED helps in the negotiation.  You almost never want to actually go down that route though (as you point out) because of the lose/lose to both parties, but at least you have certainty that you can get the ROW at the end of the day.  The other way to get leverage in the negotiation is to have scouted reroutes around that landowner available so instead of getting 200% of FMV out of it, they could get nothing.

 

Now this is what you should have said in the beginning :P This is a much better argument. TCR has probably already run into people who are already a No from the very beginning. I mean you can't compromise with No! Instead of "leverage" I would actually place ED as the fulcrum in the negotiation. The thing that detaches an owner from his/her "No" perch that Begins negotation, but isn't in the negotiation afterwards. It's merely there to show that there are actually better ways to deal with the problem without the heavy hand of government and legal channels. I'm certainly not naive to anything like that, but a company doesn't want to piss people off. I'm sure you know that Oil companies while they are looking after themselves like any company should do also understands that if they do everything they can to treat an individual the right way the first time then that makes that person a repeat customer. Compromise makes for good business. In bringing this to a much larger context why do you think it's harder to start wars or fights...it hurts business. Why plunder and loot when you can keep going back to the well and always make revenue than the one time grab.

 

I had always agreed with the underlining theme of your argument, but it was the superficial layer the "threat" that just doesn't really work.

 

EDIT: Lets also remember that Eckels was a former County Judge. I don't think bullying  people with ED would be seen as kosher. Not the best attitude to take into negotiation as a startup anyway.

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http://www.texastribune.org/2015/02/25/lawmaker-files-bill-could-stop-proposed-bullet-tra/

Remember two things people:

HB1889

Will Metcalf

Here's the facebook post:

Today, I filed House Bill 1889. This bill will require county approval for the use of eminent domain for electric railways. Numerous county officials have come out in opposition to the Texas Central Railway and their use of eminent domain. This bill would help give more local control and would let individual counties decide what is best for them. Although this may not be the ultimate solution, I believe it is a good first step. I am currently working on filing more legislation regarding this issue.

If you would like to learn more about HB 1889 please visit www.legis.state.tx.us

 

"Whee, here we go, the Ledge is back in session! And many a village is missing its idiot."  - Molly Ivins, 1/14/03

 

I miss her, even though a lot of her observations from a decade ago are still relevant - it's like deja vu all over again.

 

Rep. Metcalf apparently fails to remember that you already have to get the courts involved in order to exercise eminent domain - and once you get past somewhere around Conroe, those judges usually run into the affected landowners at the Dairy Queen or church or the high school football game pretty regularly.  Beyond that, this is a privately funded project (the sort of thing I kinda thought the Rs got all slobbery over) that's going to be using the same route as existing rights of way for rail or utilities for just about its entire length.  If Greenway Plaza and much of the Galleria area could be built over existing neighborhoods filled with fairly nice houses (shoot, downtown, too), it's pretty dang likely these guys can figure out how to deal with landowners along their route.  

 

Above and beyond which, this project isn't exactly something Bubba and Billy Bob hatched up yesterday afternoon at the ice house, or a concept piece from one of our colleagues on this board.  It's a private group that's managed to put together a pool of private resources that's on a par with a lot of good sized governmental entities, over the course of a number of years already.  It's not going to be the cartoon Ashby highrise, or even the sea of concrete that is the Katy Freeway.

 

An entire industry has built up around substituting easy talking points for facts.  In that atmosphere, fear, fear, gut wrenching fear!!!!! of the unknown easily billows into infinite panic, and that's hard to deal with.  Just look at what a pointless PITA it's become to get onto an airplane.

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"Whee, here we go, the Ledge is back in session! And many a village is missing its idiot."  - Molly Ivins, 1/14/03

 

I miss her, even though a lot of her observations from a decade ago are still relevant - it's like deja vu all over again.

 

Rep. Metcalf apparently fails to remember that you already have to get the courts involved in order to exercise eminent domain - and once you get past somewhere around Conroe, those judges usually run into the affected landowners at the Dairy Queen or church or the high school football game pretty regularly.  Beyond that, this is a privately funded project (the sort of thing I kinda thought the Rs got all slobbery over) that's going to be using the same route as existing rights of way for rail or utilities for just about its entire length.  If Greenway Plaza and much of the Galleria area could be built over existing neighborhoods filled with fairly nice houses (shoot, downtown, too), it's pretty dang likely these guys can figure out how to deal with landowners along their route.  

 

Above and beyond which, this project isn't exactly something Bubba and Billy Bob hatched up yesterday afternoon at the ice house, or a concept piece from one of our colleagues on this board.  It's a private group that's managed to put together a pool of private resources that's on a par with a lot of good sized governmental entities, over the course of a number of years already.  It's not going to be the cartoon Ashby highrise, or even the sea of concrete that is the Katy Freeway.

 

An entire industry has built up around substituting easy talking points for facts.  In that atmosphere, fear, fear, gut wrenching fear!!!!! of the unknown easily billows into infinite panic, and that's hard to deal with.  Just look at what a pointless PITA it's become to get onto an airplane.

 

I called the Representative's office to voice my concern that he is targeting private business and creating a situation where government is unfairly burdening the private sector and encouraging one form of travel over another. I used words like 'crony capitalism' and 'government regulations' to try and speak his language.

 

From what I gather, its a matter of him opposing the project in any form as he says it only benefits a few while hurting many. His rep even used a pipeline as an example of public good and this project as not affecting the public / hurting the public good.

 

It's mental gymnastics, but it is what the office believes.

 

Here's his office #: (512) 463-0726 

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I called the Representative's office to voice my concern that he is targeting private business and creating a situation where government is unfairly burdening the private sector and encouraging one form of travel over another. I used words like 'crony capitalism' and 'government regulations' to try and speak his language.

 

From what I gather, its a matter of him opposing the project in any form as he says it only benefits a few while hurting many. His rep even used a pipeline as an example of public good and this project as not affecting the public / hurting the public good.

 

It's mental gymnastics, but it is what the office believes.

 

Here's his office #: (512) 463-0726 

 

Best bet is to get a letter to the editor printed in the Chronicle and/or DMN. People will take notice in those circumstances, far more than a phone call will permit.

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I called the Representative's office to voice my concern that he is targeting private business and creating a situation where government is unfairly burdening the private sector and encouraging one form of travel over another. I used words like 'crony capitalism' and 'government regulations' to try and speak his language.

 

From what I gather, its a matter of him opposing the project in any form as he says it only benefits a few while hurting many. His rep even used a pipeline as an example of public good and this project as not affecting the public / hurting the public good.

 

It's mental gymnastics, but it is what the office believes.

 

Here's his office #: (512) 463-0726 

 

So is this suppose to motivate us to do a phone rush of this guys office? :P

 

Best bet is to get a letter to the editor printed in the Chronicle and/or DMN. People will take notice in those circumstances, far more than a phone call will permit.

 

I completely agree with this, however, would they really respond to stuff like this from this website?

 

Actually, for those who have the appropriate address, the Conroe Courier and similar fine publications would probably do better than Dallas or Houston's local fishwrap.

 

I agree with this also though you still need to put it in a Dallas or Houston newspaper so that it gets more eyes on it.

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Well, I still remember was that one of the big positives that you guys were praising it for is not using any new ROW that wasn't power line or railroad ROW and were using that "fact" to shut down opposition when it cropped it up on the thread.

Now, there's some politician that wants to prevent use of eminent domain unless counties approve it, and you've got feathers ruffled up. This leaves two possibilities:

1. TSR will not use eminent domain, and therefore the house bill is completely useless and there's nothing worry about.

2. TSR would use eminent domain, and you've been lying/lied to about it not using eminent domain.

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Well, I still remember was that one of the big positives that you guys were praising it for is not using any new ROW that wasn't power line or railroad ROW and were using that "fact" to shut down opposition when it cropped it up on the thread.

Now, there's some politician that wants to prevent use of eminent domain unless counties approve it, and you've got feathers ruffled up. This leaves two possibilities:

1. TSR will not use eminent domain, and therefore the house bill is completely useless and there's nothing worry about.

2. TSR would use eminent domain, and you've been lying/lied to about it not using eminent domain.

 

I don't know what "TSR" is.....

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I completely agree with this, however, would they really respond to stuff like this from this website?

 

 

 

Sure. "Representative so-and-so claims to be in favor of free market solutions to problems all Texans face together, but when the opportunity comes for a private company to solve a growing problem for this region and our state, he has shown that these are nothing but platitudes", etc.

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Well, I still remember was that one of the big positives that you guys were praising it for is not using any new ROW that wasn't power line or railroad ROW and were using that "fact" to shut down opposition when it cropped it up on the thread.

Now, there's some politician that wants to prevent use of eminent domain unless counties approve it, and you've got feathers ruffled up. This leaves two possibilities:

1. TSR will not use eminent domain, and therefore the house bill is completely useless and there's nothing worry about.

2. TSR would use eminent domain, and you've been lying/lied to about it not using eminent domain.

 

tl;dr for my earlier post - 

 

Exercising eminent domain already requires approval of a local court, the judges of which are likely to personally know the affected people in the counties between Houston and Dallas.  

 

-------------

 

I thought adding layers of governmental approval to a private enterprise project is something that Rep. Metcalf's party makes a big production about opposing.   :mellow:

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Well, I still remember was that one of the big positives that you guys were praising it for is not using any new ROW that wasn't power line or railroad ROW and were using that "fact" to shut down opposition when it cropped it up on the thread.

Now, there's some politician that wants to prevent use of eminent domain unless counties approve it, and you've got feathers ruffled up. This leaves two possibilities:

1. TSR will not use eminent domain, and therefore the house bill is completely useless and there's nothing worry about.

2. TSR would use eminent domain, and you've been lying/lied to about it not using eminent domain.

I think they were referring to the parts in the city no houses were being taken. And slivers of land in rural areas otherwise. We have republican leadership of fear mongering idiots that pretty much try to stop any useful political project. Edited by Slick Vik
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Well, I still remember was that one of the big positives that you guys were praising it for is not using any new ROW that wasn't power line or railroad ROW and were using that "fact" to shut down opposition when it cropped it up on the thread.

Now, there's some politician that wants to prevent use of eminent domain unless counties approve it, and you've got feathers ruffled up. This leaves two possibilities:

1. TSR will not use eminent domain, and therefore the house bill is completely useless and there's nothing worry about.

2. TSR would use eminent domain, and you've been lying/lied to about it not using eminent domain.

 

So if you are going to address "TCR" in this manner than I guess I'll go ahead and spill the beans.

 

Wednesday evening Mollusk, BigFootSocks, and I met with Eckels and his Director of Communications, David Benzion, for several hours. I don't think it would come as any shock to some that all three of us were impressed with what they have achieved so far, but I will admit that as someone who essentially questions everything I went in a little skeptical. I came out with a greater understand of what they have built up till now and I will say that the organization, technology, and planning they have gathered/assembled is quite robust. They will be releasing more info in the coming weeks, so I'm not going to spill my guts out of what was discussed. Hell even in the amount of time we spent there were plenty of topics of which we could have gone into further detail, but as a sort of an introduction it was very interesting to hear what both had to say about the project.

 

Of the many topics discussed we asked several questions related to this, and here's my understanding of what they said.

 

For the most part they will avoid using eminent domain as much as possible...I would go as far to say that even if they did it would be an extremely small percentage of the overall land they would be using.

 

Another point they wanted to expressed was that even though they will need to buy land in some areas they would utilize the free market to do so in order to avoid litigation with landowners and because it would be a better deal for the land owner if it was through the free market anyway.

 

Probably the biggest shock to the three of us was the amount of land of which they would need. Depending on where the train is traveling the amount of easement they will require fluctuates from 100ft to 40ft. Many of the easements they would require will be no bigger than some of the easements needed for your regular country road! It's that small. When entering more populated areas the easement will be more toward the 40ft.

 

Finally, many get confused between actually buying the land and buying easements (the right to use the land, or go over the land, etc....) Many ordinary people purchase easement rights from other landowners everyday particularly out in the country when sometimes a persons land holdings are surrounded by others. In other words it happens all the time!

 

And for those who were wondering why only the three of us (there were a couple more but some had to cancel) this was from the Director of Communications yesterday.

 

"[TCR] will be holding another such event for HAIFers soon, and will let everyone know so a wider range of folks can hopefully come. We kept it small and limited to start since this was the first time we had done something like this (i.e., held a briefing for people who were anonymous to us we just identified on the Internet), and we wanted to see how it would go."

 

So many more discussions to be had in the future.

Edited by Luminare
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I don't think it's irrelevant because without the right to resort to eminent domain, you better have a reroute available in the event you come up against a landowner that is dead set against accepting a proposal, regardless of how lucrative it might be for them.  With the number of properties and landowners likely to be involved on a route of this length, there are bound to be some that are not reasonable.

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I don't think it's irrelevant because without the right to resort to eminent domain, you better have a reroute available in the event you come up against a landowner that is dead set against accepting a proposal, regardless of how lucrative it might be for them.  With the number of properties and landowners likely to be involved on a route of this length, there are bound to be some that are not reasonable.

 

It's actually not as many as you might think but it's still a lot. In the meeting they said there are some 1000 landowners along the utility route and they will at some point be meeting with each and every one of them individually to discuss the specifics of where the route would cross.

 

I also think you should soften your stance on the perceived stubbornness of landowners. Many of them are willing to cooperate. In fact most of the noise is not even coming from the actual land owners but people who think they will be affected via proxy to their neighbors! We were told about one specific case were one landowner was one MILE away from the rail, but was still jumping on them for all kinds of fears that wouldn't even affect his property or his way of life!

 

TCR has made the point that they will be as accommodating as possible. They are pretty confident that they will be able to work in a smart way with each landowner.

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I don't think it's irrelevant because without the right to resort to eminent domain, you better have a reroute available in the event you come up against a landowner that is dead set against accepting a proposal, regardless of how lucrative it might be for them.  With the number of properties and landowners likely to be involved on a route of this length, there are bound to be some that are not reasonable.

 

I agree. Even with ED, you have landowners that want to be the last man standing and win the lottery by being the last link in a several billion dollar chain.  I sympathize with the landowners a bit, but without ED, there are a lot of things that benefit a lot of people that simply would not happen because an affected landowner does not see the benefit of a project for himself personally.

 

For a rural landowner, you usually see upwards of 80% happy as all get out that they get a payment for something that was at best an at-risk revenue source from farming, and at worst, useless. But the other 20% tends to conflate personal property and personal sovereignty.  Problem is, the laws will be more influenced by those with the most to lose or gain, so even if I did feel that the ED laws were unfair to landowners (which I don't, generally, Kelo type situations being the exception) I don't trust the process to ever get them tilted back the other way.

 

There are all manner of laws that govern what you can and can not do to, on or with your land, and you're just renting it from the government anyway, so if you can go on about your life as it was before but for the use of a 100' strip and some extra cash in your pocket, I am of a mind that there are more important things that one can get outraged over.

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And then you have politicians like Will Metcalf, in Conroe no less, doing this:

http://hartbeat.har.com/2015/02/26/lawmakers-bill-a-silver-bullet-to-stop-train-the-texas-tribune/

Aargh! Why are these knuckleheads so against mass transportation. We shall never leave the 19th century!

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And then you have politicians like Will Metcalf, in Conroe no less doing this:

http://hartbeat.har.com/2015/02/26/lawmakers-bill-a-silver-bullet-to-stop-train-the-texas-tribune/

Aargh! Why are these knuckleheads so against mass transportation. We shall never leave the 19th century!

 

Just look at when he joined office. He assumed office this past January! Early 30's, first term rep replacing a 7 year veteran in his seat. If you look at his history the dude has barely made it out of the Conroe/Huntsville area, so he is very wet behind the ears.

 

This looks like nothing but a very young politican looking at making a name for himself in his district, Montgomery County and the current Republican regime, very early. I mean look how absolutely absurd this bill is! I doubt this makes it through the first round of committees!

 

From my understanding of what I've been told TCR has a lot of support from not only local officals, but state officials, TXDOT, etc... Both Dallas and Houston politicans support this project as well. There is no way that these two cities are going to let a small town, first time Republican rep. sink what will be an enormous enterprise and economic benefit to the state. The Republican big wigs will let him have his fun for a little while, but will probably find a way to calm him down as this process continues.

 

Oh and lets not forget....the route no longer goes through Montgomery County, and when someone is simply trying to pass something just because they hate it...it usually gets put down.

 

EDIT: Not to mention this should become a project that Republicans should champion! This high speed rail will soon become involved in the greatest display of Private vs. Public battle in recent memory. That is instant press! You can't beat that! Texas vs. California. One ideology against another. Tell me how Republicans should be against this.....really...I mean really...

Edited by Luminare
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Because they think it champions "big government" and eminent domain.  Which I don't think it does, but then they don't mind using ED for purposes that are pro-GOP.  This guys mindset is: Trains are for democrats!  That's the perception.  Wrong though it may be, you can read the opinions of the poorly informed all over in our local media comment boards.  It won't change until the troglodytes in this state (and there are millions of them) see one working, and working well.

 

I've always said: Americans need to travel to Europe and see how the rest of the West does it.  Yes there are problems aplenty, but they do a lot of the little things that make life easier right.

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Because they think it champions "big government" and eminent domain.  Which I don't think it does, but then they don't mind using ED for purposes that are pro-GOP.  This guys mindset is: Trains are for democrats!  That's the perception.  Wrong though it may be, you can read the opinions of the poorly informed all over in our local media comment boards.  It won't change until the troglodytes in this state (and there are millions of them) see one working, and working well.

 

I've always said: Americans need to travel to Europe and see how the rest of the West does it.  Yes there are problems aplenty, but they do a lot of the little things that make life easier right.

 

It's actually quite sad because you can mentally picture this guy (who probably hasn't ventured much outside Texas in his life) doing the math in his head!

 

High Speed Rail = Something I don't understand and is foreign to my way of life....that must mean it's dangerous!

 

Trains = Public Transit = Where are there public transit = Blue states = Big government + Eminent Domain + higher taxes + liberals + environmentalism (which of course environmentalism = they must want to take away our cars).

 

Now take everything above:

 

Perceived knowledge about Trains + Something I don't understand and is foreign to my way of life (HSR) = Must stop it now!

Edited by Luminare
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Just look at when he joined office. He assumed office this past January! Early 30's, first term rep replacing a 7 year veteran in his seat. If you look at his history the dude has barely made it out of the Conroe/Huntsville area, so he is very wet behind the ears.

This looks like nothing but a very young politican looking at making a name for himself in his district, Montgomery County and the current Republican regime, very early. I mean look how absolutely absurd this bill is! I doubt this makes it through the first round of committees!

From my understanding of what I've been told TCR has a lot of support from not only local officals, but state officials, TXDOT, etc... Both Dallas and Houston politicans support this project as well. There is no way that these two cities are going to let a small town, first time Republican rep. sink what will be an enormous enterprise and economic benefit to the state. The Republican big wigs will let him have his fun for a little while, but will probably find a way to calm him down as this process continues.

Oh and lets not forget....the route no longer goes through Montgomery County, and when someone is simply trying to pass something just because they hate it...it usually gets put down.

EDIT: Not to mention this should become a project that Republicans should champion! This high speed rail will soon become involved in the greatest display of Private vs. Public battle in recent memory. That is instant press! You can't beat that! Texas vs. California. One ideology against another. Tell me how Republicans should be against this.....really...I mean really...

I was thinking he might be against it because it skips them.

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I was thinking he might be against it because it skips them.

 

If you look at his facebook page or search out info about him....he simply hates High Speed Rail. He argues that we should be speeding more money on roads and infrastructure related to cars. Yes we should be investing more in our road infrastructure, but the problem behind his argument is that it doesn't work because this isn't a public project.

 

Also I should point out that where ever TCR passes any kind of road infrastructure it then by proxy becomes part of the scope of the project since they will be spending money on grade separations creating new under passes or overpass.

 

TCR actually told people on the BNSF route that they would do this. Think about that for that entire route all roads crossing the railroad would actually RECEIVE funding from TCR to upgrade those crossings to underpass or overpass! for some reason they simply didn't understand that.

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Even so, "stopping eminent domain" is kind of difficult, if some county wanted to pull that to throw a monkey wrench into a highway expansion, a judge would shoot that down as soon as possible.

Metcalf isn't evil or corrupt, or even all that intellectually lacking (well, I don't know that, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt here), he doesn't know what he's doing. Unless the bill starts gaining traction with powerful interest groups backing it, I'd suggest putting down the pitchforks.

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Also I should point out that where ever TCR passes any kind of road infrastructure it then by proxy becomes part of the scope of the project since they will be spending money on grade separations creating new under passes or overpass.

 

TCR actually told people on the BNSF route that they would do this. Think about that for that entire route all roads crossing the railroad would actually RECEIVE funding from TCR to upgrade those crossings to underpass or overpass! for some reason they simply didn't understand that.

Huh. I was under the impression that the freight railroads would remain as-is, with an elevated viaduct being built next to/above them, not unlike some of the light rail in Dallas that shares ROW with freight lines and the spur leads. Frankly, I think this is kind of the better choice: building overpasses and underpasses sounds like a cool idea but in reality, this drags on construction (making any high speed rail construction readily apparent) and cuts off access, often permanently. I lived through the FM 2818 overpass project in CS, which directly affected me and still affects access to the rest of town (mileage is now added permanently to any trip). Moreover, if multiple construction projects are going on at the same time, that makes it even harder to get around, and if it's one at a time, then construction is going to go on longer.

[Note to all: "TSR" must be from combining "TCR" and "HSR"]

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Huh. I was under the impression that the freight railroads would remain as-is, with an elevated viaduct being built next to/above them, not unlike some of the light rail in Dallas that shares ROW with freight lines and the spur leads. Frankly, I think this is kind of the better choice: building overpasses and underpasses sounds like a cool idea but in reality, this drags on construction (making any high speed rail construction readily apparent) and cuts off access, often permanently. I lived through the FM 2818 overpass project in CS, which directly affected me and still affects access to the rest of town (mileage is now added permanently to any trip). Moreover, if multiple construction projects are going on at the same time, that makes it even harder to get around, and if it's one at a time, then construction is going to go on longer.

[Note to all: "TSR" must be from combining "TCR" and "HSR"]

 

You can choose to believe whatever you want dude, or whatever makes more since in your mind. I, however, choose to believe what I understood from the meeting.

 

Another thing....stop using examples to try to compare one project to another which aren't related or have their own unique challenges. You are trying to throw in FM 2818 and lightrail...just stop.

 

Now of course the BNSF route is no longer happening so that doesn't matter. The utility route will have a combination of viaducts and "at grade" sections (more like on raised berms). At points where they cross roads "at grade" they will do grade separations. If the section is already in viaduct form then you can assume that it will simply pass over whatever existing road. At which ever landowners properties they travel across if they want access points to other parts of their lands or to neighbors then they will construct underpasses for those landowners if its a section of rail "at grade".

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You can choose to believe whatever you want dude, or whatever makes more since in your mind. I, however, choose to believe what I understood from the meeting.

 

Another thing....stop using examples to try to compare one project to another which aren't related or have their own unique challenges. You are trying to throw in FM 2818 and lightrail...just stop.

 

Now of course the BNSF route is no longer happening so that doesn't matter. The utility route will have a combination of viaducts and "at grade" sections (more like on raised berms). At points where they cross roads "at grade" they will do grade separations. If the section is already in viaduct form then you can assume that it will simply pass over whatever existing road. At which ever landowners properties they travel across if they want access points to other parts of their lands or to neighbors then they will construct underpasses for those landowners if its a section of rail "at grade".

No need to be a d-bag, especially when it's from information derived from a meeting that you and a couple of others were privy to, and not previously released to the public. And yes, how dare I try to find the closest examples of comparison, because the HSR will blow my stupid peasant mind wide open.

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No need to be a d-bag, especially when it's from information derived from a meeting that you and a couple of others were privy to, and not previously released to the public. And yes, how dare I try to find the closest examples of comparison, because the HSR will blow my stupid peasant mind wide open.

Honestly It'll blow all our minds when/if it comes to be!  Peasant or not.  Which seems to be most of us on this forum... peasants that is.

 

Odd to think of it as something that's 5-7 years away.  So much can happen in that time its not even funny.

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Honestly It'll blow all our minds when/if it comes to be!  Peasant or not.  Which seems to be most of us on this forum... peasants that is.

 

Odd to think of it as something that's 5-7 years away.  So much can happen in that time its not even funny.

Well, unless there's some major disaster/scientific breakthrough, I suspect that 5-7 years won't be all that different. I can remember my 2008 trip to Houston pretty well, and there are many, many things that simply didn't change. Heck, some various buildings and projects have been discussed pretty much since the current iteration of the HAIF, which has been almost a decade now. Have we re-developed the Astroworld site yet? Are they doing anything with the old Holiday/Days/Heaven on Earth Inn yet? Nope. That's not to say there are no changes, after all, the Katy Freeway wasn't completed yet.

I was in Houston yesterday, and I noticed the utility lines where the line would go over 290, and frankly, it wasn't that hard to visualize...just another overpass structure.

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I meant globally.  And I wasn't attacking you - your post seems a *tad* defensive?

 

And yes, Houston's changed A LOT since 2008.  There are more people, we have walk-able development, 2 new light rail lines, UH has 10,000 students living on campus now, Exxon's move has nearly created an entire new town out in the woods of north Houston, The Woodlands has exploded, Buffalo Bayou has been turned into a usable park, Discovery Green... has created a neighborhood.  Upper Kirby is actually a neighborhood maybe just a little bit of one - but its growing.

 

Yeah, we've not changed so much that Houston isn't recognizable, but then again its much different than it was just 7 years ago.  The needle is moving in the direction it needs to, yet it can still certainly move further.

 

Next time you're in town open your eyes!  And if you weren't privy to this forum these buildings (when you went by them) would seem far different.

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It's actually quite sad because you can mentally picture this guy (who probably hasn't ventured much outside Texas in his life) doing the math in his head!

 

High Speed Rail = Something I don't understand and is foreign to my way of life....that must mean it's dangerous!

 

Trains = Public Transit = Where are there public transit = Blue states = Big government + Eminent Domain + higher taxes + liberals + environmentalism (which of course environmentalism = they must want to take away our cars).

 

 

 

"Socialism! Booga booga!"

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Yesterday, I picked up a copy of The Waller Times at the Buc-ee's on my way back from Houston (yes, I drove to Houston for a job interview!), and there was an article about the citizens being against the HSR (link). At first glance, it seemed to be an uninformed piece, but I thought it was interest.

- It mentioned it will "utilize tax [subsidies]", which I don't know how true it is. Even if they don't grant tax breaks to use the land, it will essentially delete taxable land, which is an argument against widening roads (even smaller residential roads with shoulders).

- "Texans Against HSR" was formed by a Grimes County judge (conflict of interest there?) and they outline four points about the HSR. They do know that it is privately funded and operated, but these are their four points (not mine).

• The TCR cost estimates are way too low.

• Texas State Officials have concluded that it is not feasible to construct and operate HSR solely with private funding

• TCR ridership estimates are way too high.

• HSR projects end up being paid by taxpayers.

- The article also mentions that the train "will actually be a 50-year-old Japanese model, which runs on steel tracks, almost an obsolete technology" and that it would require overhead wires with adequate power supply stations along the whole route.

Assuming that bit is true, it not only brings up that scene in The Simpsons where the fancy monorail sticker peels away to read "1964 World's Fair", but also blows out any existing noise estimates, because those were done with modern HSR systems. Secondly, if the cost estimates really are too high/ridership is too low (I was guessing that they were ridiculously overdoing the ridership estimates), what is the backup plan? Would they expect the government to bail them out or just leave it half-done/shut down until they can scrape up more funding?

I just don't think it's fair to accuse any opposition as "fearmongering", because unless their side is composed of solely making things up (which they aren't, there's some very legitimate concerns there), you just suck at debating. Now, before the circle-jerking starts back up again, I want to say that I want to believe in the idea of a privately funded and operated HSR, but there are so many obstacles to that.

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Hahahahaha wait wait wait, they article you mention DOESN'T make crap up?

1) TCR Cost Estimates too low

Literally NO ONE except the people from TCR have ANY knowledge about the cost, and the $10 billion remark was a very wide estimate to give a sense of scale early on.

2)Texas State Officials have concluded it's not feasible

Really? Which officials, exactly? The way I see it, a private enterprise building a significant transportation project as thus, would be a Texas politicians wet dream.

3) Riderships are too high

TCR has spent millions on market studies and readership, and this point has become null and moot ever since it started.

4) HSR projects end up as a tax payer burden

Well since this is touted as a PRIVATE a rail line, this will not be paid by taxpayers, unless the citizens of our great state decide they want more rail to be built.

5) 50-year old model

Really dude? This project is being overseen by the worlds oldest and best HSR company. The Shinkansen model has just come out with a new update/model, and by the time this is completed, will probably have another specific model.

You say you don't want to accuse either side as fear-mongering, but the points you bring up are not valid and are the same misinformed drivel we've been seeing these past few weeks from small, local newspapers.

You do raise a great point tho, but not necessarily on purpose; I have seen so much ignorant and blatantly false accusations towards this project and TCR, that it's almost too much time trying to debate these rumors against the people that have already made up their mind. TCR really needs to step up their social media game and try to reach as many Texans as possible, a la a Reddit AMA? In the Houston and Dallas subs? .... ;)

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Hahahahaha wait wait wait, they article you mention DOESN'T make crap up?

1) TCR Cost Estimates too low

Literally NO ONE except the people from TCR have ANY knowledge about the cost, and the $10 billion remark was a very wide estimate to give a sense of scale early on.

2)Texas State Officials have concluded it's not feasible

Really? Which officials, exactly? The way I see it, a private enterprise building a significant transportation project as thus, would be a Texas politicians wet dream.

3) Riderships are too high

TCR has spent millions on market studies and readership, and this point has become null and moot ever since it started.

4) HSR projects end up as a tax payer burden

Well since this is touted as a PRIVATE a rail line, this will not be paid by taxpayers, unless the citizens of our great state decide they want more rail to be built.

5) 50-year old model

Really dude? This project is being overseen by the worlds oldest and best HSR company. The Shinkansen model has just come out with a new update/model, and by the time this is completed, will probably have another specific model.

You say you don't want to accuse either side as fear-mongering, but the points you bring up are not valid and are the same misinformed drivel we've been seeing these past few weeks from small, local newspapers.

You do raise a great point tho, but not necessarily on purpose; I have seen so much ignorant and blatantly false accusations towards this project and TCR, that it's almost too much time trying to debate these rumors against the people that have already made up their mind. TCR really needs to step up their social media game and try to reach as many Texans as possible, a la a Reddit AMA? In the Houston and Dallas subs? .... ;)

I think that a lot of their arguments do rely on guesswork/predictions and not cold facts. For example, it IS a private rail line, but the thought is that they'll require government bailouts at some point if/when it loses money hand over fist. You could argue that they don't know that it will, but hell, neither do we.

The cost estimates no one knows either. The California project is much longer than the Texas project (about twice as long), and currently still at a $67 billion price tag. Even if we cut that in a quarter (a route half as long and needless government bureaucracy), thats still over $16 billion. And that's assuming all those numbers are actually correct. It's easy to dismiss the opposition on how much they don't know, but do we really know that much more?

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Yesterday, I picked up a copy of The Waller Times at the Buc-ee's on my way back from Houston (yes, I drove to Houston for a job interview!), and there was an article about the citizens being against the HSR (link). At first glance, it seemed to be an uninformed piece, but I thought it was interest.

- It mentioned it will "utilize tax [subsidies]", which I don't know how true it is. Even if they don't grant tax breaks to use the land, it will essentially delete taxable land, which is an argument against widening roads (even smaller residential roads with shoulders).

- "Texans Against HSR" was formed by a Grimes County judge (conflict of interest there?) and they outline four points about the HSR. They do know that it is privately funded and operated, but these are their four points (not mine).

• The TCR cost estimates are way too low.

• Texas State Officials have concluded that it is not feasible to construct and operate HSR solely with private funding

• TCR ridership estimates are way too high.

• HSR projects end up being paid by taxpayers.

- The article also mentions that the train "will actually be a 50-year-old Japanese model, which runs on steel tracks, almost an obsolete technology" and that it would require overhead wires with adequate power supply stations along the whole route.

Assuming that bit is true, it not only brings up that scene in The Simpsons where the fancy monorail sticker peels away to read "1964 World's Fair", but also blows out any existing noise estimates, because those were done with modern HSR systems. Secondly, if the cost estimates really are too high/ridership is too low (I was guessing that they were ridiculously overdoing the ridership estimates), what is the backup plan? Would they expect the government to bail them out or just leave it half-done/shut down until they can scrape up more funding?

I just don't think it's fair to accuse any opposition as "fearmongering", because unless their side is composed of solely making things up (which they aren't, there's some very legitimate concerns there), you just suck at debating. Now, before the circle-jerking starts back up again, I want to say that I want to believe in the idea of a privately funded and operated HSR, but there are so many obstacles to that.

 

Link is broken, but from the points that you have shown from the article.....it sounds like the guy is just jumping on the bandwagon.

 

btw anything i point out in this isn't directed at you IronTiger, but at the article in question.

 

1. "utilize tax [subsidies]". From the meeting last week we were told they wouldn't be using any tax subsidies at all. Now since the link is broken and I can't get to the article. What subsidies does he layout that TCR will be using (or so he claims). What was the source that told him they would use subsidies? What prior HSR or even passenger rail project within the last several decades does it give a precendent that HSR or even passenger would use "tax [subsidies]. Just from the quotation that you left I'm going to assume that "tax subsidies" was used as a generality.

 

2. "Texans Against HSR", yes, was formed by a former Grimes County Judge. It's funny because this was a long topic of discussion at our meeting last week. From what I remember at the meeting, it most certainly is a conflict of interest. The group was formed very early before there was more information about the project. In fact as of late the former Grimes County Judge has been increasingly less vocal as more information has come out from the project. One of the Judge's main opposition points was public safety. Now this is something that I haven't talked about because it hasn't been brought up. Probably the only real opposition to this project that is actually of legitimate concern was by firefighters, first respondents, medical, etc.... Their main argument is that of course since they are in small towns they wouldn't have the proper equipment, training, or facilities to be able to take on an accident if one were too arise. From what we were told TCR after meeting with various departments that have brought up this question immediately silenced themselves when they were given TCRs solution to that problem. What TCR will do is that they will not only provide brand new equipment, but will help train all the people along the route! Eckels made an interesting point that one thing to come out of 9/11 was a greater degree of cooperation between firefighting branches and stations who would do drills and work together to train in case another event like that happened again, and the same principle would be used here where HSR could be a catalyst to improve these kinds of services not only in upgrades to equipment, but in training as well not just in the local areas, but between towns so in case something does happen (which remember that this train has had ZERO accidents).

 

3. What was the journalist estimates on TCRs costs? Did he create his own study and looked into every single estimate and did this over 6-7 years spending millions of dollars? I don't think he did. Unless he did then it's merely an 'educated guess' from a guy who probably maybe had one economics class and that was when he went to college years ago. The japanese company that is backing this project has spent millions MILLIONS of dollars researching the viability of the route and this also comes from previous research even before TCR came to them where they analyzed potential markets in the US and the only route that was feasible and best to invest in was guess which route.....Houston to Dallas. TCR has also gotten assistance from TXDOT (which they paid them to help them so no tax payer money btw) to look at estimates and from the very beginning told TXDOT to look at the worst possible scenarios. Needless to say, a lot of money has gone into the research of all this and has been ongoing for a number of years prior to a single journalist googling 'cost estimates' for an article he would write that night to put on the front page the very next day.

 

4. I'm going to assume when he says Texas State officials he doesn't name any names, but just says Texas State officials. As for feasibility I would go back to what I said in #3. Here is the thing though.....it's a private companies money! Who cares. If they fail then they fail, and guess what if they complete the line and then a few years later they go out of business (doubtful since they will literally be the only train competition in town) then guess what TXDOT just got a free train! Talk about a publicity win for them. TCR would do all the work and if they failed then TXDOT looks like the shining knight that saves it.

 

5. Again back to #3. They asked TXDOT and others to do the same kind of worst case scenarios and they still saw they could make money. Once again they will be the only train in town meaning they are the only train solution if people want to use the alternative. Also again...did this guy formulate this opinion over a weekend or over many years of research.

 

6. What are his examples of private HSR projects that have failed and were taken over buy public entities....the answer is zero! There are two fully private HSR routes in the world which are entirely funded private with no gov intervention. One I believe is in France, and the other is....you guessed it in Japan. Lets also remember that countries where train networks that were once public owned are now becoming private entities such as Deutschebahn in Germany, Network Rail in the UK, etc...

 

7. People drive cars that are 20-30 years old. You buy houses that are older. Everyday as an architect I use tools that have been around for forever, but are just contemporary versions of them. This guy clearly has no idea how this technology works or even knows the model that TCR will be using (which was shown to us and I'm sure plenty of others before). TCR will be using the most latest and greatest japanese model (now we were told that within the next year the japanese company will be update their fleet to a new model, but we will still have the the most updated train possible!) TCR has also been collaborating with Federal and state code officials to make sure that every requirement is met (even ADA requirements). The tech has been around for 50 years, but that doesn't mean we are getting tech that is 50 years old. Another example I just thought of, our own US military uses equipment that is 50 years old! You know the B-52 Stratofortress? Yes that same bomber that began service almost 50 years ago is still in service and recently got an extension!

 

Btw I'm sorry if I came off as rude in my post responding to your comments a few days ago. I'm not picking on you, but the argument itself which at the end of the day....sure there are things that can be worked around or made better to make sure that HSR is a good fit here, but I have yet hear any real arguments against HSR other than the fact that someone simply doesn't like it, understand it, or can't comprehend transportation where everything isn't always about themselves.

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Link is broken, but from the points that you have shown from the article.....it sounds like the guy is just jumping on the bandwagon.

 

btw anything i point out in this isn't directed at you IronTiger, but at the article in question.

 

1. "utilize tax [subsidies]". From the meeting last week we were told they wouldn't be using any tax subsidies at all. Now since the link is broken and I can't get to the article. What subsidies does he layout that TCR will be using (or so he claims). What was the source that told him they would use subsidies? What prior HSR or even passenger rail project within the last several decades does it give a precendent that HSR or even passenger would use "tax [subsidies]. Just from the quotation that you left I'm going to assume that "tax subsidies" was used as a generality.

 

2. "Texans Against HSR", yes, was formed by a former Grimes County Judge. It's funny because this was a long topic of discussion at our meeting last week. From what I remember at the meeting, it most certainly is a conflict of interest. The group was formed very early before there was more information about the project. In fact as of late the former Grimes County Judge has been increasingly less vocal as more information has come out from the project. One of the Judge's main opposition points was public safety. Now this is something that I haven't talked about because it hasn't been brought up. Probably the only real opposition to this project that is actually of legitimate concern was by firefighters, first respondents, medical, etc.... Their main argument is that of course since they are in small towns they wouldn't have the proper equipment, training, or facilities to be able to take on an accident if one were too arise. From what we were told TCR after meeting with various departments that have brought up this question immediately silenced themselves when they were given TCRs solution to that problem. What TCR will do is that they will not only provide brand new equipment, but will help train all the people along the route! Eckels made an interesting point that one thing to come out of 9/11 was a greater degree of cooperation between firefighting branches and stations who would do drills and work together to train in case another event like that happened again, and the same principle would be used here where HSR could be a catalyst to improve these kinds of services not only in upgrades to equipment, but in training as well not just in the local areas, but between towns so in case something does happen (which remember that this train has had ZERO accidents).

 

3. What was the journalist estimates on TCRs costs? Did he create his own study and looked into every single estimate and did this over 6-7 years spending millions of dollars? I don't think he did. Unless he did then it's merely an 'educated guess' from a guy who probably maybe had one economics class and that was when he went to college years ago. The japanese company that is backing this project has spent millions MILLIONS of dollars researching the viability of the route and this also comes from previous research even before TCR came to them where they analyzed potential markets in the US and the only route that was feasible and best to invest in was guess which route.....Houston to Dallas. TCR has also gotten assistance from TXDOT (which they paid them to help them so no tax payer money btw) to look at estimates and from the very beginning told TXDOT to look at the worst possible scenarios. Needless to say, a lot of money has gone into the research of all this and has been ongoing for a number of years prior to a single journalist googling 'cost estimates' for an article he would write that night to put on the front page the very next day.

 

4. I'm going to assume when he says Texas State officials he doesn't name any names, but just says Texas State officials. As for feasibility I would go back to what I said in #3. Here is the thing though.....it's a private companies money! Who cares. If they fail then they fail, and guess what if they complete the line and then a few years later they go out of business (doubtful since they will literally be the only train competition in town) then guess what TXDOT just got a free train! Talk about a publicity win for them. TCR would do all the work and if they failed then TXDOT looks like the shining knight that saves it.

 

5. Again back to #3. They asked TXDOT and others to do the same kind of worst case scenarios and they still saw they could make money. Once again they will be the only train in town meaning they are the only train solution if people want to use the alternative. Also again...did this guy formulate this opinion over a weekend or over many years of research.

 

6. What are his examples of private HSR projects that have failed and were taken over buy public entities....the answer is zero! There are two fully private HSR routes in the world which are entirely funded private with no gov intervention. One I believe is in France, and the other is....you guessed it in Japan. Lets also remember that countries where train networks that were once public owned are now becoming private entities such as Deutschebahn in Germany, Network Rail in the UK, etc...

 

7. People drive cars that are 20-30 years old. You buy houses that are older. Everyday as an architect I use tools that have been around for forever, but are just contemporary versions of them. This guy clearly has no idea how this technology works or even knows the model that TCR will be using (which was shown to us and I'm sure plenty of others before). TCR will be using the most latest and greatest japanese model (now we were told that within the next year the japanese company will be update their fleet to a new model, but we will still have the the most updated train possible!) TCR has also been collaborating with Federal and state code officials to make sure that every requirement is met (even ADA requirements). The tech has been around for 50 years, but that doesn't mean we are getting tech that is 50 years old. Another example I just thought of, our own US military uses equipment that is 50 years old! You know the B-52 Stratofortress? Yes that same bomber that began service almost 50 years ago is still in service and recently got an extension!

 

Btw I'm sorry if I came off as rude in my post responding to your comments a few days ago. I'm not picking on you, but the argument itself which at the end of the day....sure there are things that can be worked around or made better to make sure that HSR is a good fit here, but I have yet hear any real arguments against HSR other than the fact that someone simply doesn't like it, understand it, or can't comprehend transportation where everything isn't always about themselves.

Here is a link that should work. For what it's worth, I was more interested in reading about the Harlan's/Arlan's changeover than the HSR, as that was at the top of the page (and that's why I picked it up). Also, the reason I did [subsidies] was the article misspelled it as "subsides" (typos happen).

Thank you for apologizing to the last comment, although I will say that I found it odd that you dismissed other railroad viaduct projects/overpasses as irrelevant, yet you brought up Greenway Plaza a bit earlier, which is even more irrelevant to the discussion at hand (Greenway Plaza was able to get away with the buyout was almost entirely due to the Houston lack of zoning...when the deeds expired at Lamar Weslayan, the area could "go commercial", and the developers were able to use that as leverage to buy out the 'hood).

Edited by IronTiger
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Not to pile on (OK, I'm piling on...), but - from a tax base standpoint this will be better for the rural counties than what's currently going on.  Practically all of the land that will be used currently has an ag exemption on taxes, meaning that they pay very little.  That exemption won't apply to the rail line.  I don't know just how it will end up being appraised for tax purposes, but even if it keeps the same value per acre (actually, it's likely to go up IMHO since it will be used for production of income), there will be more net taxes to the county, etc. from losing the ag exemption alone.

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Ahhh, so I guess the high speed rail won't be going here after all if someone has been selected already. It is HIGHLY unlikely TCR would spend millions on the property if they weren't guaranteed a route to this property.

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Ahhh, so I guess the high speed rail won't be going here after all if someone has been selected already. It is HIGHLY unlikely TCR would spend millions on the property if they weren't guaranteed a route to this property.

 

What? I actually posted it for the exact opposite reason.....

 

Currently they are working with the Rail District, TXDOT, the City of Houston, and the Mayor's office on how the route would get downtown. That is still going through evaluations. Their main goal is the Post Office site. So I don't understand how you came to this conclusion.

 

It also says in the article that is up for sale. It didn't say that it had been sold! The Post Office though knows that there will be a purchase of the property soon and so they are quickly making their move to a new location.

Edited by Luminare
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That is interesting, but the reason for this is still open to speculation, in my opinion.

 

The Post Office is obviously in a hurry to vacate - within the next four months. That is not consistent with simply putting up the property for sale, since the property has been known to be potentially available for years. So (in my opinion) something is in the works, or a sale is well into the negotiation phase.

 

The chance that the planned use is residential or office seems quite low to me. With the collapse of oil prices, it is unlikely developers will get financing. There is already a lot of office and and some residential under construction downtown, which could glut the market when those projects are completed. This is also a non-prime location for office or residential. Retail is more plausible.

 

So that suggests to me that THSR could be involved.

 

On the other hand, news reports list the earliest possible opening of the railway project is 2021, so the start of construction is at least 2 years away and probably more like 3 years in the future (especially considering that environmental clearance usually takes longer than expected). So that makes me wonder why the Post Office is in a hurry to vacate. THSR could feel some urgency to acquire the property, but there would be no urgency for the Post Office to leave. If THSR acquired it, they would probably want to lease it to the Post Office to get some revenue and allow the Post Office to plan an orderly departure. Then they would want to start clearing it in about 2 years.

 

On a related issue, I just noticed that the web site for the environmental study is now redirecting users to a federal web site

http://dallashoustonhsr.com/

Seems strange since highway projects are never on a federal site, but I don't think it means anything. The http://texascentral.com/ web site remains up and active.

Edited by MaxConcrete
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What? I actually posted it for the exact opposite reason.....

 

Currently they are working with the Rail District, TXDOT, the City of Houston, and the Mayor's office on how the route would get downtown. That is still going through evaluations. Their main goal is the Post Office site. So I don't understand how you came to this conclusion.

 

It also says in the article that is up for sale. It didn't say that it had been sold! The Post Office though knows that there will be a purchase of the property soon and so they are quickly making their move to a new location.

I know you meant it for the exact opposite reason. I'm playing devil's advocate here.

 

I hope they get this spot but it seems too early. I almost feel like they are hinting that this has already been bought by some developer but are just not publicly disclosing it yet. And if it's bought, I can tell you that TCR wouldn't have spent capital this early. Doesn't matter if they have been working with all of those entities. This rail line isn't a federal project. There is no guarantee they will get this location, let alone get the route exactly here.... that's just the hope at this point. They haven't started buying land anywhere... MaxConcrete makes some very good points.

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